Flawed Humans Abound

One of the things which seems to be a bit lost with reference to the tragedy in Arizona is addressed by the following:

Whenever there’s some gun-related massacre or crime spree, you have the usual cries for tighter gun-control. One of the things this hysterical reaction overlooks is the fact that it’s not just civilians who sometimes go bad. The folks on the other side of law enforcement can also go bad.


Yet, when police go bad, you don’t hear the usual groups demand that we prohibit policemen for arming themselves–or impose other restrictions [on ] police powers.

We seem to consider that lawbreaking by a member of law enforcement is anomalous and should not reflect on the group, yet lawbreaking by a non-member of law enforcement is seen as indicative of the behavior and risks of the group as a whole.

This really goes back to one’s beliefs with regard to man’s moral character. Does one believe that man is moral because he wills himself to be or because there is a standard outside of himself to which he is held? If one believes that man is intrinsically good (and only does bad things because of his environment, peer pressure, violent political rhetoric, etc), then the Arizona tragedy was entirely avoidable and indeed should not really even be blamed on the person who squeezed the trigger. It should be blamed on those who caused the wrong environment and caused an otherwise good person do bad things.

If, however, one understands that man is intrinsically flawed, then whether laws are broken by a apparently disturbed young civilian or a law enforcement officer or a member of Congress or anyone else–we understand the genesis for such actions and place the responsibility for them on the people themselves.

Are there ever times when people do the wrong things because they are encouraged, cajoled, bribed, or otherwise pressured into them by others? Absolutely. However, their own responsibility is not done away with in these cases–though the context should be considered with reference to relative punishment.

Bottom line? If we start with an incorrect understanding of why we make wrong decisions, we will find it difficult to arrive at a correct conclusion.

3 thoughts on “Flawed Humans Abound

  1. I’m in total agreement that responsibility for this crime rests on the evil individual who kept pulling the trigger. But as for your opening quote, I’m not hearing the volume of “usual cries” for gun control. I’mhearing a lot more calls for “dialing down the rhetoric.” I’m puzzled and alarmed that much of the public discourse seems to be about reeling back our exercise of First Amendment rights rather than reeling back the Second Amendment activities that led much more directly to six deaths. The First Amendment is much more vital to democracy than the Second.

    1. CAH,

      If you are not hearing “usual cries” for gun control, then you must not have heard about http://thehill.com/blogs/blog-briefing-room/news/137087-lautenberg-to-reintroduce-gun-ban-bill or many other such articles/discussions.

      I’m sorry to hear of your puzzlement and alarm. To claim that Second Amendment activities “led much more directly to six deaths” is to apparently conflate lawful activity with unlawful activity.

      Further, the First Amendment is no more vital than the Second. If one’s person and property are not personally protectable, then how can one protect one’s right to speech, assembly, free exercise of religion, etc?

  2. Indeed, there are some calling for gun control. But in my imperfect and casual survey of popular discourse, the discussions I hear making the headlines, the majority of the talk is about language, not guns. (But maybe that’s just a conspiracy of the liberal media, trying to hide a secret Marxist plot to take everyone’s guns?)

    I’m not conflating lawful with unlawful. The ability of this individual to legally acquire a firearm led more directly to injury than this individual’s ability to legally speak and post weird videos online.

    The “vital to democracy” check: suppose you could only have one or the other, First Amendment or Second Amendment. If we repealed the First Amendment, we would be subject to all sorts of persecution that a gun could not protect us from. If we repealed the Second Amendment, vigorous debate and democratic activity could still take place. The First Amendment is proving much more effective than the Second Amendment for Nebraska landowners who are trying to stop TransCanada. First Amendment remedies are perfectly democratic. Second Amendment remedies are acceptbale only as auxiliaries to the First Amendment, as a “last resort” when rational discourse breaks down.

    The Second Amendment checks only second-rate thugs. The real threats to your freedom — corporations, corrupt government, etc. — are smarter than that and can always outgun you.

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